'Long-shanks Gertie' the village children called her, chasing her all the way to school. It was because she was different, with her long legs and long dark hair and clean pinafore. And, as the daughter of the land-agent on Providence, she accepted that she didn't belong anywhere - not part of the village, and not part of the Squire's family at the Big House.
But she was fascinated by Squire Wyndham's family - Louise, the arrogant daughter of the house who never missed an opportunity of snubbing her. James, who was handsome and wonderful and charming - and who was one day to break her heart. And William, the heir, quiet, bookish, and almost as much as misfit as she was. But above all there was Lady Hester. It was Lady Hester who saw something in Gertrude that no one else had perceived - a quality of strength and endurance that would serve the family well.
Between them Lady Hester and Gertrude Hoskins were to be the salvation of Providence.